by Gitanjali Maria
The waves lashed at her feet and the wind blew strongly making her hair fly out in its direction. The sea was clean with its bluish-green waters, much cleaner than the previous few days when its waters were blackish. She preferred the sea this way. The rains had washed away much of the dirt that had got accumulated on the beach. The rains had also kept much of the usual crowd away and only a few tourists and some families enjoyed themselves on the otherwise crowded beach. The sky was still covered with dark clouds predicting imminent rains.
Maya sat on one the many rocks that dotted the sandy beach, wetting her feet in the pool of sea water that got accumulated between the rocks. Working with an NGO she had been sent to this picturesque coastal village hardly two months back. Though lacking in many of the amenities that she enjoyed in the city, she felt it was all compensated in the rich bounties that the nature offered. The green hills, paddy fields, the small seasonal waterfalls, the dense green patches and the beach had captivated her. The beach was just a ten minute walk from her place of residence and she used to frequent it just to feel the smell of the sea and soak in the gentle breeze that never left the seaside.
It was past 6’O’Clock in the evening when she walked down to the beach after her day’s work. It had rained while she was walking. Though she had brought an umbrella along, she preferred to get drenched. Soaked to the skin, she had occupied a rock at the edge of the sea, near a pool of seawater that got collected repeatedly in between the rocks, each time the waves kissed the sandy beach.
The weather was pleasant, quite romantic, she felt. The beach was at its best. The sun was setting, going below the water level. She couldn’t see the sun going below the horizon due to the thick dense dark clouds covering the entire sky; but the increasing darkness gave her an indication of the departure of the Sun.
She watched the beach and the tourists for a long time till her eyes focused on a little boy who was making a picture on the white sand, with a small piece of twig. His hands moved elegantly as he drew. The setting sun, the sea, the coconut trees nearby, the small huts on the sea coast – everything figured in his drawing. He stood up for a minute or so to contemplate upon the drawing he had made till now. He smiled a small smile for himself, appreciating himself for the creation he had made.
The little boy then came towards the water to dip his twig in it and clean it. Maya smiled at him as he came along. He smiled back a sheepish smile. His body was thin and his ribs could be counted. He was probably a local. He dipped his twig in the water first. Not able to resist the waters he dipped his feet to in the cold water, one by one. He took a small amount of it in the palm of his hands and let it flow down gently by tilting his palms, enacting the priests who carry out prayers using holy water. She offered him a toffee from her bag. He turned towards her and smiled a sheepish smile before accepting the toffee and running away to where he had made the drawing.
Maya reminisced about her own childhood days. She had lived a life of plenty with all the pleasures that she wanted. Her parents dotted on her, their only child. She remembered with nostalgia the many trips she had made to different beaches and hill stations with her family. She was loved and admired in her school and was an above average student. She had done her higher studies from a reputed college and had joined a reputed organization to climb the
corporate ladder. It was during those days that she had met her fiancé, a handsome young man of high qualifications working in the customs department. They dated for a few months and finally tied the knot with the blessings of both the families. There was nothing more she could ask from life. Her life seemed full with all that one could wish for; a loving and caring life partner, wonderful parents, a career graph soaring high; she had everything that anyone would want.
But then as she learned later, happy days do not stay forever. Tragedy struck her too. One day a couple of years before, she was jostled from her routine office life with the news of her parents’ sudden demise in a car accident. She was shocked and saddened and mourned for a long time. But even before she could recover from this tragedy she was pierced again with the news of her husband’s murder. It was agony beyond what she could bear. She cried till no tears would flow. She felt the world under her feet slipping. Life suddenly seemed meaningless and all that she felt happy for was lost within the last few months. She attempted suicide many times but each time her attempts were thwarted by friends or neighbours.
It was then that she joined this NGO doing social service in remote rural areas on an aunt’s advice to get out of all the depression. Working for the poor and deprived in the society had helped calm herself. Listening to the pains and worries of other people and trying to soothe them had helped erase her pain too to a large extent. Her worries seemed tiny in front of the mountain of troubles that others had to endure right from their birth. At least she had had many years of joyful life.
As she sat on the sea shore, the waves washing the sand and the boy immersed in his drawing, scenes from her former life flashed across her mind and watching the child she thought with grief and longing of the family and kids she would have had had her husband lived a little longer.
The boy engrossed till now in the second session of her drawing looked towards her. She smiled weakly at him and he returned a full grin before turning his attention to his picture again. With full attention, he completed his drawing and stood up, a satisfied little man.
‘Manu’, his mother called out to him from one of the huts in the row of huts on the east coast. He dropped his twig and ran out but not before taking a final look at his hard work and waving Maya a quick bye.
The sky was turning dark and dark clouds loomed up above. The moon too had come out in a crescent shape. Maya got up to leave for her cottage. On the way she stopped to look at the picture the boy had made. He had made an exact copy of the beach – the setting sun, the row of coconut trees and the rocks. There was also a small boy in the picture with a toffee in his hand and a little way from him there was a lady sitting. Maya felt a sudden happiness at the thought that the boy had included her too in his drawing, in his hard work. She felt it good to belong to somewhere, to be thought of and remembered by someone. The boy’s smile and the twinkle in his eyes flashed in her memory.
As she walked back to her little home, she felt loved for and cared for. She was happy to belong to that little boy’s drawing, to that little boy’s life. Maybe that little one could have been hers too; a tear escaped her, both of sorrow and joy. She counted her blessings as the lights in her cottage were turned on and the bright moon along with the stars adorned the velvety dark sky.